My Movie Prozac Nation is based on the book written by Elizabeth Wurtzel and her struggles with depression and drug addiction. Her book Prozac Nation was written during her time at Harvard University while she studied journalism. During this time Wurtzel writes about her battles with being a student, severe depression and drug addictions. During Wurtzel’s academic career at Harvard she received The Rolling Stones College Journalism Award. Even though Wurtzel struggled with many demons she was able to graduate from Harvard University and then go onto to Yale University and get her Law degree (Hodd).
The movie Prozac Nation, directed by Erik Skjoldbj? rg is based on the true story of Elizabeth Wurtzel and her struggles with depression during her first year at Harvard University. When Lizzie arrives to college she and her roommate begin the hard partying and the indulgence of drugs and alcohol which only contributes to her downward spiral of severe depression. Lizzie’s excessive self-medication of illegal drugs and alcohol contribute to her violent outburst and alienation her from her friends; which evidently lands her in the hospital.
After her trip to the hospital, Lizzie begins to see a therapist who starts to help her cope with everyday life. After a breakup with her boyfriend, Lizzie begins to not be able to handle her feelings once again and her doctor then prescribes her to start taking Prozac. Lizzie refers to her doctor as her drug dealer and the pharmacy as her crack house, and that she is in the “United States of Depression” in the “Prozac Nation”. Even though the prescription Prozac has helped Lizzie cope with everyday life, she notices that she is losing herself.
At the end of the movie, Lizzie states that the drugs and therapy sessions are part of a slow recovery process to get herself-back together. (Prozac Nation) In the Movie Prozac Nation we see a girl who struggles with being able to handle her own feelings that leads her to self-prescribing drugs like alcohol, marijuana and cocaine to handle her own feelings (Prozac Nation). In today’s society many people are looking for the miracle drug that will help them handle everyday life or doctors are freely prescribing pharmaceutical drugs to people who simply need to learn to cope with everyday life.
They do not suffer from debilitating depression or obsessive compulsive disorder, they suffer from what is called life. “Nearly 19 Million prescriptions of Prozac were written in 1995, alone” (Antidepressant Drugs). My research focused on the over prescribing of anti-depressants and how this impacts people in society. There are many reasons that contribute to the over prescribing of anti-depressant drugs. We live in such a high paced environment where many people have troubles dealing with real life situations causing them to turn to miracle cures opposed to finding alternative ways to handle the struggles life hands us.
The search for a “miracle cure”, cost, pharmaceutical influence and doctor’s eagerness to presrcibe all contribute to the overconsumption of antidepressant drugs. In the beginning of the Movie Prozac Nation, we see “Lizzie” self-medicating with marijuana, cocaine and alcohol in order to cope with the pressure of being a student at an Ivy League college (Prozac Nation). Even though Lizzie is self-medicating with illegal drugs this still ties into the idea that individuals are turning to substances in order to deal with life’s stressful situations.
Many people out there do search out that miracle pill that can fix everything. In the article “”Prozac: Are Drugs treating mental illness being used too freely? ” we read about Rita, a patient that was prescribed Prozac to help her deal with “a lot of external blows”. Rita admits to not being depressed and not quite sure how Prozac has affected her because “I always have been able to cope in a crisis, but now I feel pleasant, very pleasant, and things do not bother me too much” (Cooper).
This shows us that Rita, is not taking Prozac for its intended use for severe case of OCD or Clinical depression but because it simply helps her live every day in a worry free mind set, regardless of what crosses her path. In this, we see that antidepressant drugs are being overprescribed to people who could benefit from other forms of coping mechanisms. Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist is a big critic of the over prescribing of antidepressants to help people who have the inability to handle life’s obstacles.
“People love to take pills when they’re feelings hopeless, if a pill is declared to be magical by the medical profession and by Time and Newsweek, then the placebo effect is enormous” (Cooper). It seems as though people are deciding to ask their doctors about antidepressant drugs like Prozac because they do more than just help with actual disorders of depression and other mental disorders. “The drug, may actually transform personalities, timid people may become confident and bold once they are put on the medication (Antidepressant Drugs). This type of behavior can be labeled as cosmetic pharmacology.
Psychopharmacologist Peter Kramer uses this term to describe his work with Prozac. Kramer explains his work with one of his Patients Tess who regardless of suffering from a traumatic life from an abusive father and husband she still managed to succeed in the business world. Tess’ life experiences have caused her to be timid and shy causing her to lack social skills to date or be outgoing. Kramer then prescribed Tess Prozac to help her come a more successful outgoing person with confidence (Francassa). This is just another example of how people in society are looking for a quick way in order to solve small problems.
Prozac is not a drug intended to make people more outgoing or a positive person more positive, but it is intended to help treat people who suffer from debilitating mental disorders that inhibit their ability to function in society. Another contributing factor is that prescribing pills is lot more cost effective then spending hours a week during therapy. “A really good psychiatrist is probably going to charge $150 an hour” (Cooper). We can see how the cost effects of regular therapy can take a toll on someone financially in the move, Prozac Nation.
Lizzie’s Mom goes from living in a pretty decent neighborhood to a tiny little apartment in a not so well off neighborhood in New York City. After her Mom moves to her new apartment, she actually gets mugged and ends up in the hospital for quite some time due to her injuries. (Prozac Nation) She could have been mugged in her more affluent community in New York City, but I think the director purposely showed us how run down her new neighborhood was in order to show how the extensive talk therapy has affected her financially.
Prozac is one of the more expensive newer SSRI drugs on the market, yet it only “costs just $15 or $16 dollars a week (Cooper). If we look at the math, a patient could chose to be medicated for almost 10 weeks opposed to attending just one thereby sessions. The weeks of medication will have a much smaller impact on a person’s wallet and a much faster rehabilitation. It only seems obvious that many people would chose to take just the medication for a “quicker” fix then try to fix their problems with a much more conventional way like talk therapy.
The aspect of cost doesn’t only come from the patients who are taking Prozac, but health insurance providers have an influence as well in the over prescribing of drugs. “For insurance companies, drugs like Prozac replace therapeutic treatment because they are less costly than psychoanalysis” (Marlan). If confronted with this dilemma, patients are much more likely to choose the option that is covered by insurance. If health-care plans covered more talk therapies then I think this would limit the excessive amount of people who are constantly taking anti-depressants.
We would see an increase in people learning to handle their everyday issues on their own. Pharmaceutical companies also have an impact on how Doctors treat their patients, resulting in more prescriptions to be prescribed. “Currently disclosed information on payments shows that individual doctors can receive upwards of $300,000 a year from drug manufacturers” Even though it is “illegal” for drug manufacturers to pay doctors to prescribe their drugs, it is not illegal for drug manufacturers to pay for doctors to endorse certain prescription drugs.
(“Physicians Endorsing Pharmaceuticals”) This has a huge impact on how doctors will and have prescribed certain drugs. There are many critics against doctors endorsing drugs, because as humans we can be biased without even being aware of it. A study was done on doctors who had been on lavish trips to learn more about certain drugs and the following was discovered: “Even though the doctors says this in no way influenced their prescribing pattern, we were able to show that the drugs there were talked about at these conferences tripled and quadrupled in usage right after the trip” (“Physicians Endorsing Pharmaceuticals”).
This statics shows that they do in some way have an influence. Many doctors and pharmaceutical companies claim these drugs companies don’t force the doctors to say anything that they do not agree with, but evidence shows otherwise. The following is from Stefan Kruszewski, a psychiatric specialist who was once a paid speaker for Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Johnson &Johnson. “When I started speaking for companies in the 90’s I was allowed to say what I thought I should say consistent with science… Then it got to the point where I was no longer allowed to do that.
I was given slides and told, “We’ll give you a thought dollars if you say this for half an hour. ” And I said, “I can’t say that. It isn’t true. ”” (“Physicians Endorsing Pharmaceuticals”). If the federal government didn’t think that pharmaceutical companies didn’t have an influence on doctors prescribing patterns then they would not feel the need to regulate pharmaceutical and doctor relationship, for example making it illegal for pharmaceutical companies to pay doctors based on the number of prescriptions prescribed to patients.
“I call this my crack house where I come to score, and Dr. Sterling is my dealer. It seems as if everyone’s doctors is dealing”(Prozac Nation). In the end of the movie, we can see that according to Lizzie, it seems as though everyone’s doctor is in a hurry to prescribe this miracle drug as if it was the cure all for just about any disorders. Dr. Peter Kramer gives us many great example of how doctors are so eager to prescribe drugs to patients without having a strong bases as to why they are being prescribed the drug.
“A Doctor prescribes a drug to a patients and then bases the diagnosis of illness on how the patient reacts to the drug” (Francassa). This doesn’t make sense because there are thousands and thousands of different drugs out there that treat many different illnesses, we can’t go diagnosing people based on their reactions to a certain medication. That loses the whole idea of science behind the medical field. Dr. Kramer admits to being willing to let Prozac replace psychotherapy, it seems a quicker and easier route to social success” (Francassa).
This vision goes hand in hand when Lizzie is standing in front of the pharmacy watching person after person go in and refill their Prozac prescriptions. The eagerness of doctors to move, and just “fix” problems that probably don’t even need to be fixed with drugs. In a study conducted in 1993 found that more than half of physicians surveyed got out their prescription pads to prescribe Prozac after discussing depression with a patient for less than three minutes.
(Francassa) When meeting someone new it takes three minutes alone just for introductions. How can a doctor prescribe SSRIs in that small time frame? It almost seems impossible for a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis in just three minutes. Guy Clovis from The Prozac Survivors Support Groups thinks that Prozac needs to be closely looked and reviewed but instead “It’s being prescribed for everything from hangnails to major depression” (Cooper). When doctors are overprescribing medications like Prozac they are altering people’s personalities.
They are also putting them at risk for addictions and other medical conditions that go hand in hand with taking pills over a long period of time. A person who takes Prozac to help become a more social person is not going to stop taking the drug, because they’ve been cured but rather continue taking the drug for as long as their body will allow. Doctors needs to consider the risks that come with over prescribing medications. Also what is important to note is that regular general practitioner are writing the prescription, not psychiatrists.
A drug that is meant to treat psychological disorders like severe depression and OCD shouldn’t be so freely prescribe from doctors who are not experts in the field it was intended to treat. We’ve come across a lot of different information that backs up the idea that drugs like Prozac are being too widely prescribes to individuals. It’s not only the doctors who excessively prescribe, but it’s also individuals looking for the “magic pill” and pharmaceutical companies who promote the non-existent magic pill.
“America has become such an industrialized, materialistic society that we think that a product sold by a company is the answer to human suffering” (Cooper). This is true, we see in the movie Prozac Nation when dozens of people are hurrying to the pharmacy and also in people Like Tess and Rita who take Prozac to just make them handle life’s difficult situations a little better; even though they are not “clinical depressed”. Prozac changes the whole dynamic of individuals and the search for this magic pill just alters their perception leading to a lack of reality.
Works Cited “Antidepressant Drugs. ” Issues & Controversies On File: n. pag. Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 5 Jan. 2001. Web. 2 Apr. 2013 Cooper, Mary. “Prozac Are Drugs treating mental illness being used too freely? ” (1994) CQ Researcher. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. Fracassa, Moira. “Medicating The Self: The Roles Of Science And Culture In The Construction Of Prozac. ” Journal Of Popular Culture 32. 4 (1999): 23-28. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. 6 Apr. 2013. Hodd, Sarah. “From Prozac Nation to Yale Law School?
Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Unlikely Journey. ”abcnews. com 22 March 2007. Web. 19 April 2013. Marlan, Dawn. “Reviews. ” Chicago Review 42. 1 (1996): 93. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 18 Apr. 2013 “Physicians Endorsing Pharmaceuticals. ” Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 23 May 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. Prozac Nation. Director Erik Skjoldbj? rg. Perf. Christina Ricci, Jessica Lange, Jason Biggs Miramax Films, 2001. DVD From my rough draft, I changed a lot of minor grammatical errors that made my paper look very messy and unorganized.
I also added the rest of my sources in order to meet the requirements for the paper. Another major change I made to my paper was changing my Movie summary from almost a page long to just about half a page. I know that format is a huge factor in our grade and my peer reviewers pointed out that my summary might be a little too long. I also needed to make changes to my in-text citations, like adding parentheses or adding italics to the titles of the Movie and also articles without an author.